Nepal has taken another big step in the fight against discrimination. Kathmandu has in fact recognized the marriage of a first LGBT+ couple in the country, the authorities announced this Thursday, the bride and groom now officially united congratulating themselves on a victory “for all”.
Maya Gurung, a 41-year-old transgender woman and Surendra Pandey, a 27-year-old man, who got married in 2017 in a Hindu ceremony, obtained their marriage certificate on Wednesday at a locality in central Lamjung district.
The bride and groom say they are “very happy and proud”
Yubraj Adhikari, the chairman of Dordi Rural Municipality, said it was issued as per the instructions of the Department of National Identification and Civil Registrar, after a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court. The court in fact issued a provisional order in June allowing transgender and same-sex couples to have their marriages recognized, calling on the government to create a new temporary register for these unions, pending appropriate legislation.
“We are very happy and proud. It’s finally happened,” responded Maya Gurung. “This is a victory, not just for us, but for all couples like ours,” she added.
The bride and groom first contacted the district authorities, who did not grant their request. Their appeal was also rejected. But the local authorities were “much more attentive”, welcomed their lawyer, Rounik Raj Aryal.
“A victory” that opens the way
Many were waiting for Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey to lead the way. “This is a victory after a decades-long battle for marriage equality. (The couple) made history. This is a major event for us,” said Sunil Babu Pant, who campaigns for LGBT+ rights.
Nepal has some of South Asia’s most progressive legislation on gay and transgender rights, including seminal reforms dating from 2007 that prohibit discrimination by gender or based on sexual orientation. Since 2015, it has also issued passports with the mention “other” for gender categories, no longer limiting the choice to “male or female”.
In 2023, the Supreme Court also ordered the government to recognize the non-heterosexual marriage of a Nepalese person with a foreign person and to grant a visa to the latter. The LGBT+ community in Nepal, of more than 900,000 members, nevertheless remains the victim of discrimination, particularly in employment, health and education.